Great Bitter Lake
|Great Bitter Lake (GBL)|
|Lake type||salt water lake|
|Primary inflows||Suez Canal|
|Primary outflows||Suez Canal|
|Surface elevation||0 m (0 ft)|
The Great Bitter Lake (Arabic: البحيرة المرة الكبرى; transliterated: al-Buhayrah al-Murra al-Kubra) is a salt water lake which is part of the Suez Canal. It is connected to the Small Bitter Lake (Arabic: البحيرة المرة الصغرى; transliterated: al-Buhayrah al-Murra as-Sughra), through which the canal also runs. Before the canal was built, their site was occupied by dry salt valleys. Together, the Bitter Lakes have a surface area of about 250 km². The canal also runs through Lake Manzala and Lake Timsah, north of the Bitter Lakes.
As the canal has no locks, sea water flows freely into the lake from the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. In general, north of the lakes the current reverses seasonally, being north-going in winter and south-going in summer. South of the lakes, the current is tidal, reversing with the tides in the Red Sea. Fish can migrate, generally in a northerly direction, through the canal and lakes in what is known as a Lessepsian migration. By this means some Red Sea species have come to colonize the eastern Mediterranean.
On 14 February 1945, on the Great Bitter Lake, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, having flown directly from the Yalta Conference with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin, met on board the naval cruiser USS Quincy with Saudi Arabia's King Abdulaziz. President Roosevelt's interpreter was U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Bill Eddy who recorded the men's conversation in his book FDR Meets Ibn Saud.
During the Six-Day War in 1967, the canal was closed, leaving 15 ships trapped in the lake until 1975. These ships became known as the "Yellow Fleet", because of the desert sands which soon covered their decks. A number of local postage stamps (or rather, decorative labels, since they had no postal validity) were created by the crews, which are sought after by collectors.
- Madl, Pierre (1999). Essay about the phenomenon of Lessepsian Migration, Colloquial Meeting of Marine Biology I, Salzburg, April 1999 (revised in Nov. 2001).
- The Red Sea Pilot. Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson. 1995. p. 266.
- Yergin, Daniel (1992). The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power.
- "President Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz". SUSRIS. 17 March 2005. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
- Blair, Jonathon (June 1975). "New Life for the Troubled Suez Canal". National Geographic. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
- Pearson, John; Anderson, Ken (May 1975). "A 'new' Suez Canal shapes up for 1980s". Popular Mechanics (Hearst Magazines) 143 (5). Retrieved August 23, 2011.
- Ian Russel. "Melampus in Suez (the tale of a soldier on the MS Melampus)". The Blue Funnel Line 1866 - 1986. Retrieved 2011-04-30.